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Pritchard, Hugh W.

Job title: 

Head of Research; Member of Kew's Senior Science Group

Seed Conservation
Joined Kew: 


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Biological Sciences, Univ. Leicester, 1978
  • PhD, Univ. East London (CNAA), 1983
  • Visiting Professor of Plant Physiology, Jilin Agricultural University, China (1996-99)
  • Fellow of the Society of Biology (FSB; formerly Institute of Biology, FIBiol, 2004-present)
  • Visiting Professor of Cryobiology, University of Bedfordshire, UK (2004-present)
  • Fellow of the Linnean Society (FLS, 2006-present)
  • Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf, 2007-present)
  • Honorary Professor of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Institute of Botany (2008-present)
  • Honorary Professor of Life Sciences, University of Sussex (2009-present)
  • Visiting Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2010)

Head of Research, Seed Conservation Department

  • Head of research group comprising eight staff, who have published >100 papers in international peer-reviewed journals, refereed for >50 journals and supervised >30 post-graduate students since 2006.
  • Personal successes include securing ten collaborative grants worth c. £1.15 million and publishing 42 papers (37 in PR journals, including TIPS and PNAS) since 2006.
  • Career publications are > 150, receiving 120 citations per annum, and an h-index of 20.
  • My research, with > 30 countries, focuses on: global syntheses of seed quality traits; ecological correlates of tree seed storability; biochemical and biophysical mechanisms of seed viability loss; seed cryobiology; and threshold models for germination in relation to climate change.
  • I hold the departmental lead for programmes with India and China, serve as Chairman of the Student Steering Committee and am a member of Kew Senior Science Group, with a particular interest in science policy.

International leadership

  • Vice-chairman of International Seed Testing Association’s Forest Tree and Shrub Seed Committee (2004-10)
  • Chairman, International Seed Testing Association’s Seed Storage Committee (2007-13)
  • Chairman, Society for Low Temperature Biology (2008-11)
  • UK Management Board of COST Action 871 on ‘Cryopreservation of crops of Europe’ (2006-2010)
  • Leader, Theme 3 of the FAO Commission’s State of the World’s Forest Genetic Resources (2011-13)

Institutional programme assurance

  • National science agenda with Ghanaian Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Royal Society (2007)
  • Genebank science for United States Department of Agriculture (2008)
  • International review panel for Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2009)

Fundraising and competitive grants

  • £ 10 k, Mhd Bin Zayed Conservation Fund (2011-13, with Jayanthi Nadarajan)
  • £ 10 k, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Visiting Professorship for Senior International Scientists (2011).
  • £ 7 k, Univ. of Sussex, UK, for conference organisation and public relations (2009-11);
  • £ 165 k, CNPq for Morphophysiology of tree seeds from the Amazon (2008-15; with Wolfgang Stuppy and Ilse Kranner; PI, Isolde Ferraz, INPA)
  • £ 220 k, Darwin Initiative project on ‘Orchid Seed Stores for Sustainable Use - OSSSU’ (15 countries, 2007-10, with Phil Seaton and Tim Marks);
  • £ 50 k, Department for Culture Media and Sports’ World Collections Programme for seed banking in China (2008);
  • £ 30 k, Biodiversity assessments in China (2008-10);
  • £ 300 k, COST Action 871 Cryopreservation of European crops (2006-10, with Jayanthi Nadarajan; PI, Bart Panis, Univ Leuven, Belgium)
  • £ 170 k, Darwin Initiative project on ‘Cryo-conservation Centre of Excellence for sub-Sahara Africa - CCESSA’ (South Africa, 2005-08, with Chris Wood);
  • £ 190 k, Darwin Initiative project ‘Darwin Initiative Research Exercise on Community Tree Seeds – DIRECTS’ (15 countries, 2003-06, with Moctar Sacandé)

Keynote presentations (examples)

  • International Society for Seed Science, 10th Congress, Brazil, 2011; International Union of Forestry Research Organisations, Seed Congress, Taiwan, 2010; Agricultural and Marketing Research and Developmental Trust Congress, New Zealand, 2008; International Seed Testing Association, 28th Congress, Brazil, 2007.
  • Conference organisation: Fundamental Aspects of Plant Cryopreservation (EU COST Action 871, 2 days, UK, Feb 2009); Cryo2010 (American Society for Cryobiology, 4 days, UK, July 2010); Regenerative Medicine and Cryobiology (SLTB, 2 days, UK, March 2011); Cryopreservation of Forest Species (SLTB, 2 days, UK, Sept 2011).


PhD: Rachel Webster (2006, Univ. Manchester, UK), Kim Hamilton (2008, Griffith University, Australia); Xia Ke (2009, Beijing University and Chinese Academy of Sciences); Christiane Gamené (Gembloux Univ., Belgium, ongoing); Gisele Batista (UNESP, Brazil, ongoing); Marco Porceddu (Univ. Cagliari, ongoing); Marcos Ferraz (UNESP, Brazil, ongoing);

MSc: >10 students since 2006.

Civic / charitable work

  • Founding Trustee (1999) and Trustee (2010-present), International Society for Seed Science
  • Trustee, Society for Low Temperature Biology (2011-present)
  • Governor, Writtle Agricultural College, partner to the University of Essex (2008-12)

Publishing quality assurance

  • Assistant Editor, CryoLetters (2000- );
  • Editorial Boards: Seed Science Research (2006-present) and Propagation of Ornamental Plants (2010-present)
  • Referee regularly, including for Journal of Experimental Botany, Planta, Annals of Botany, The Plant Journal
  • Management and funding of science at Wakehurst and Kew
Selected publications: 

Hu, D., Wang, Q., Yao, J.-H., Wand, Y., Pritchard, H. W., Wang, X.-F. (2012). Spatial and temporal nature of reactive oxygen species production and programmed cell death in elm (Ulmus pumila) seeds during controlled deterioration. Plant Cell and Environment 35: 2045–2059. (Stress & Survival theme) Available online

Kranner, I., Kastberger, G., Hartbauer, M., Pritchard, H. W. (2010). Non-invasive diagnosis of seed viability using infrared thermography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107: 3912-3917. (Seed Futures theme) Available online

Li, D.-Z., Pritchard, H. W. (2009). The science and economics of ex situ plant conservation. Trends in Plant Science 14: 614-621. (review) Available online

Nadarajan, J., Pritchard, H. W. (2014). Biophysical characteristics of successful oilseed embryo cryoprotection and cryopreservation using vacuum infiltration vitrification, an innovation in plant cell preservation. PLOS One online 2 May 2014. (Frozen Planet theme)

Porceddu, M., Mattana, E., Pritchard, H. W., Bacchetta, G. (2013). Thermal niche for in situ seed germination in Mediterranean mountain streams: model prediction and validation for Rhamnus persicifolia seeds. Annals of Botany 112: 1887-1897. (Sleeping Beauties theme) Available online

Current projects